Employing institution: Centre Pasteur of Cameroon
Host institution: African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), in Nigeria
Project title: Capacity building in genomics and field epidemiology of yellow fever and dengue
Dr Huguette Simo is an early career virologist specializing in the field of emerging and re-emerging viruses. After completing her Ph.D. in Infectious Tropical Diseases in 2018 she obtained a postdoctoral training position in Cameroon within the Partnership for Increasing the Impact of Vector Control (PIIVeC) program led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Dr Simo is currently a researcher at Centre Pasteur of Cameroon researching on the molecular epidemiology and surveillance of yellow fever and other arboviruses. She was also selected by the African Academy of Sciences as a 2023 early-career Affiliate, for her contribution to the field of emerging and re-emerging viruses in Central Africa through sub-regional, regional, and international collaborations using the latest scientific innovations
Yellow fever continues to cause deadly outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa each year, however, the virus genetic evolution is not well understood on the continent. Currently, there is a concern to improve the molecular confirmation of YF cases and molecular diversity to control the disease. Since the viremia is usually low, an alternative urine sample is required to perform yellow fever and dengue virus detection and sequencing while mastering the functioning of experimental field stations. Dr SIMO’s fellowship will contribute to better knowledge of arbovirus genetic diversity and molecular diagnostic in Africa, and also equip her with research grant writing skills to prepare her compete for RDF fellows AREF seed grant and other international grants such as NIH R03 grants.
Dr SIMO will be placed for six months at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), in Nigeria, a renown African institution in the field of infectious disease genomics. She will receive support from Prof Christian Happi and his team on next generation sequencing of arboviruses from different samples including blood, urine and mosquito tissues. She will gain skills that can strengthen the Centre Pasteur of Cameroon’s new sequencing platform to enable timely identification and characterisation of emerging viruses. After the placement, the collaboration with ACEGID and Prof Happi will be maintained for grant applications and technical support to run the CPC sequencing platform.
The AREF fellowship offers a unique opportunity to learn from world-class experts in the field of pathogen genomics, network and build long-term partnerships that will enable me to become an expert in viral genomic surveillance in Central Africa.”